Arabic literature  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Shop


Featured:

Arabic literature is the writing produced, both prose and poetry, by writers (not-necessarily Arabs) of the Arabic language. It does not usually include works written using the Arabic alphabet but not in the Arabic language such as Persian literature and Urdu literature. The Arabic word used for literature is adab which is derived from a word meaning "to invite someone for a meal" and implies politeness, culture and enrichment.

Arabic literature emerged in the 6th century with only fragments of the written language appearing before then. It was the Qur'an in the 7th century which would have the greatest lasting effect on Arabic culture and its literature. Arabic literature flourished during the Islamic Golden Age and continues to the present day.

Satire

The terms "comedy" and "satire" became synonymous after Aristotle's Poetics was translated into Arabic in the medieval Islamic world, where it was elaborated upon by Arabic writers and Islamic philosophers such as Abu Bischr, his pupil Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Averroes. Due to cultural differences, they disassociated comedy from Greek dramatic representation, and instead identified it with Arabic poetic themes and forms, such as hija (satirical poetry). They viewed comedy as simply the "art of reprehension" and made no reference to light and cheerful events or troublous beginnings and happy endings associated with classical Greek comedy. After the Latin translations of the 12th century, the term "comedy" thus gained a new semantic meaning in Medieval literature.

In Arabic poetry, the genre of satirical poetry was known as hija. Satire was introduced into prose literature by the Afro-Arab author Al-Jahiz in the 9th century. While dealing with serious topics in what are now known as anthropology, sociology and psychology, he introduced a satirical approach, "based on the premise that, however serious the subject under review, it could be made more interesting and thus achieve greater effect, if only one leavened the lump of solemnity by the insertion of a few amusing anecdotes or by the throwing out of some witty or paradoxical observations. He was well aware that, in treating of new themes in his prose works, he would have to employ a vocabulary of a nature more familiar in hija, satirical poetry."

For example, in one of his zoological works, he satirized the preference for longer human penis size, writing: "If the length of the penis were a sign of honor, then the mule would belong to the (honorable tribe of) Quraysh". Another satirical story based on this preference was an Arabian Nights tale called "Ali with the Large Member".

One Thousand and One Nights

The most famous example of Arabic fiction is the One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights). It is easily the best-known work of all Arabic literature, and still affects many of the ideas non-Arabs have about Arabic culture. A good example of the lack of popular Arabic prose fiction is that the stories of Aladdin and Ali Baba, usually regarded as part of the Tales from One Thousand and One Nights, were not actually part of the Tales. They were first included in French translation of the Tales by Antoine Galland who heard them being told by Maronite Hanna Dyab and only existed in incomplete Arabic manuscripts before that. The other great character from Arabic literature, Sinbad, is from the Tales.

The One Thousand and One Nights is usually placed in the genre of Arabic epic literature along with several other works. They are usually collections of short stories or episodes strung together into a long tale. The extant versions were mostly written down relatively late, after the 14th century, although many were undoubtedly collected earlier and many of the original stories are probably pre-Islamic. Types of stories in these collections include animal fables, proverbs, stories of jihad or propagation of the faith, humorous tales, moral tales, tales about the wily con-man Ali Zaybaq, and tales about the prankster Juha.

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Arabic literature" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools